Friday, January 10, 2014

A Sherlockian Lady's Guide to the Fanboy.

As we continue to move into our brave new world of Sherlockiana, it occurs to me that last year at about this time there was some unpleasantness involved a fanboy who had written an article pooh-poohing the enthusiasms of some of the young ladies of our hobby. Knowing young ladies of all ages will be alighting upon New York City streets in the week ahead to celebrate Sherlock Holmes's birthday, it only seems appropriate to prepare them for their inevitable encounters with that unusual male of the species that roams the streets and clubs of Gotham each January: the Sherlockian fanboy.

Here's what a lady must remember, first and foremost, at a time when possible fanboy encounters abound: Over time, the Sherlockian fanboy develops a natural sort of camouflage. Their hair grays or falls out. Their skin dries and wrinkles. Some among them even grow sort of handsome, in a mature sort of way. They can look like a family doctor, an senior statesman, or a tenured college professor . . . with all the trappings of a respectable elder of the tribe. But underneath that well-developed cover lurks the innards of a twenty-three-year-old fanboy or younger, of the sort you wouldn't take any crap from anywhere, anytime.

They say a public speaker should imagine his audience naked to get over a fear of public speaking. Likewise, I would suggest looking at the fanboy imagining him as the excitable teenager that lies beneath their deceiving outer crust. That Sherlock Holmes movie or pastiche they inexplicably think is just the best thing ever? Probably saw it at thirteen, just as the hormones were kicking in. Sure, in the years that followed, they did their research and attached footnotes and substantiating evidence to their thirteen-year-old Sherlock crush, but it's what guys do instead of writing fanfic. Why do you think baseball has such a ridiculous amount of statistics? Because the numbers make it all seem less silly.

Here's another tactic should you run into the fanboy who wants to sniff at your Sherlock season three excitement while heading off for the annual Christopher Morley walk. Sure, the Walk is a cool thing, but consider this: The Sherlock Holmes fanboy who's most seriously getting off on Morley is a fanboy of a fanboy. A fanboy squared. Some of the least fun Sherlockians you can ever bump into are fanboys squared. No modern fan is ever going to be as good in their eyes as the fanboys they're fans of. (Except maybe themselves, who would surely have fit right in with those favored fanboys of old. Because they're the right sort of fanboy.)

Should you run into the truly outside-the-box Sherlockian fanboy, you might find yourself vastly entertained by their little eccentricities. There are some truly "colorful" examples out their who seem to have actually been greenhouse-grown on some other planet and don't understand our Earth ways. Is a fanboy single with multiple cats? Keep an eye on that one, because you'll soon have stories you'll be telling for years. Sometimes the years don't bring respectable camouflage to the Sherlockian fanboy -- they just add more color and odd patterns to a crazy quilt that's been sewn together for decades. And that's not always an entirely bad thing.

Because don't get me wrong, ladies of the Sherlock Holmes enthusiasm: Fanboys are your natural playmates in this Grand Game of ours. In forty or fifty years (or less), you might have some of their same ailments. ("That Siffo Cyghlaub is certainly no Benedict Cumberbatch!") And most of us aren't going to be a problem at all. We can be cute as a bug, friendly as a hug, and generous to a fault. So many of us are just teenage geeks who finally got old enough and knowledgeable enough that we appear to have more credibility, and there are a few who want to use that to put a little more weight behind the fannish opinions they've held since they were a scrawny kid. There are all kinds out there.

One might even take a little notebook and start cataloging the various species of Sherlock Holmes fanboys in New York City at this time of year, just like the birders of The Big Year. That way, next year, you can post a much more authoritative guide than this.

Have fun!


  1. I've said it before--sometimes I think you and I share the same brain, only you have the creative half. This is perfect.

  2. Aren't they actually called devoteeboys?

    1. Only if they wear the appropriate Devo tee-shirts.